Another two weeks have passed, which means another blog entry from us!
Today’s the day we said bon voyage to Jane, Peter, and Angus after spending a wonderful 11 days with them. It was so lovely to see them again after so long, and I hope we were able to show them the best features of our lives here in Vancouver.
One of the first things we did together was go on a tour around Downtown, Gastown, and Granville – of course it rained on both days, but it was great to see these parts of the city from a different perspective and to find out more about their histories. One of my favourite places that we visited on the tours was the Christ Church Cathedral in Waterfront. Surrounded by skyscrapers in every direction, this beautiful little Cathedral was built of stone and the inside looked spectacular – recently renovated with modern, wooden features and large, beautiful stained glass windows. The crowning jewel of the Cathedral was a huge organ that shined and looked glorious on a balcony at the back of the church. I also loved the wonderful lanterns that hung from the ceilings and gave the Cathedral a warm, comfy feeling to it.
Another of our many adventures took us up to Whistler. The drive up to the ski resort was magical; the views of the mountains, trees, and oceans were some of the best I’ve ever seen. When we arrived, we were greeted with a snowy landscape which the Butchers were very excited about since they hadn’t seen snow for quite some time. We made our way to the Cultural Centre and loved the tour that was guided by a First Nations’ lady, who taught us how to make rope! She talked about her personal experiences of growing up as a member of the First Nations community, and what it was like to fish for salmon with her father and other members of her family. The experience was sad at times as well, as we learned about the residential schools that the First Nations children were forced to attend and suffered horrendous abuse from their ‘educators’. It was good to realise that Canada has come a long way since those days, but it is only recently that the government has acknowledged the wrong doings of the past and begun to work closer with the First Nations people, to learn about and preserve their culture.
Although we experienced quite a lot of rain during the duration of the Butcher’s stay, we were very fortunate the day we decided to bike around the Sea Wall at Stanley Park. The sun finally made an appearance and we enjoyed a leisurely bike ride, stopping often to take photographs. Peter and Angus hired a tandem bike, which Rory and I had a go on and attempted to ride without crashing! Fortunately, after a few go’s, we got the hang of it, concentrating hard and still wobbling a bit. In the evening, we went up the Lookout tower to watch the sunset. It was magical to see the sun’s final rays glittering off the tall buildings of this beautiful city. I truly am going to miss it here.
Lots to talk about! Small academic update first, for those who still care. Got some more essays back, 2 As and 1 A+ – very happy with that! Still awaiting one, but if finals go well I’m looking at straight A’s for all my courses here! So not only has this been enjoyable, but the grades haven’t suffered 🙂
Onto the personal stuff now! Like we’ve said, my family (bar 1) made the trek over to us last Wednesday, and I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! We did so much, we have tried to reign it in – the one problem I had is that, like last time, work had to come first at times, so I had to sit out on a few excursions, such as my family and Eurgain’s trip to Queen Elizabeth Park to visit the biodome – but no matter!
There’ve been some great moments. Yesterday we made a trip to Lynn Canyon Park (basically like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but slightly shorter and FREE!) and it was…well, wet. The photos betray it, but we did get truly drenched…although the tree cover appeared to shelter us at times from the worst of it. My dad’s idea of waterproof trousers really paid off, just this once! It also showed me that I have got a little fitter since being here, as I ascended the many stairs with very few problems, 6 months ago I would have struggled a little! We then headed up to Mount Seymour which was, they’ll all agree, surreal. Having come from driving rain, it was sunny within minutes as we headed above the clouds – the cameras were blinded, and us with them due to the glorious sunshine beaming off the enormous amount of snow on the ground and heaped everywhere. At times even opening our eyes to the spectacular views was painful. The surreal moment was being approached by a skier in a robot costume, to be told that there was a ‘slush cup’ around the corner. What greeted us was, for want of a better term, a Canadian Beach Party. Skiers and snowboarders took it in turns to go down a steep slope, and try to skim over a 30ft puddle – with sub-zero consequences for those who failed. It was…incredible – I’ll leave judgement to you, from the photos!
We have also made quite a few visits to the Old Spaghetti Factory while the ‘folks’ were here; an establishment I wish we had in the UK. With entrees costing no more than $20, one is given free bread, a starter of soup or salad, and ice cream with every meal. This deal is incredible, the service is always wonderful, AND they allow kids in. This is another small gripe I’m finding with North America – I understand that liquor laws have to be strict, but in the UK (as far as I’m aware) there’s no real age restriction on entering the pub. Here, many quite nice eateries are out of bounds because legally they are bars first, and so minors are not even allowed through the front door. One of those cultural things I hope do not catch on in Britain!
I also had the pleasure of cooking for my family one evening, and demonstrating that I am (in fact) getting quite grown up! Using a recipe I found on Facebook, I made (supposedly!) fajita pasta – with a mistake I made last time of using too much cayenne pepper. I did not realise this, but apparently the stuff scores 5x higher on the official spice rating than jalapenos! I think the food worked all the same, but Angus found it a little more taxing than usual! Nonetheless, I really think our time here has helped me grow up a bit more than I would have done at home – when you’re abroad you need to be more proactive, or you pay the consequences in time or money, and so this trip has done wonders for my confidence (not that I need any more of it, some would argue!).
Reaching the end of the trip, we’re both coming to see this place as home – and New West will be sorely missed upon our return to the familiar sights of Britain.